Jackson Seery looked at the Tesla parked outside the Downtown Central Library and gasped when Chris Sharek backed the car up ever so slightly using his phone.
“It’s like Batman,” the 12-year-old said.
Seery and seven other children spent more than an hour Thursday getting an introduction into the world of engineering, as part of new effort by the library. The workshop Thursday was facilitated by Neirda Lafontant’s FUNducation, which aims to “bridge the gap” and get students more interested in engineering fields at a younger age.
“I just want to reach out to kids and let them know they can do this,” she said.
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Combining her engineering background and a “kid-at-heart” nature, Lafontant said she tries to design events that will keep kids excited and slip in some education at the same time.
Jackson, who will start seventh-grade at King Middle School in August, ooh’ed and aah’ed over Sharek’s Tesla and Sharek’s son’s Chevy Volt, which is a hybrid, running on a small electric battery and having a back-up engine, just in case. Seery was joined by classmates Paul Lespasio and Dylan Bell, all who indicated they may want to puruse a career in engineering down the road.
Sharek’s Tesla is totally electric and has no engine at all, making it more environmentally sound, Sharek said.
“They pollute more,” Sharek said of traditional cars.
Inside the library, Stoney Pope from ZNG Engineering walked the children through site plans and drawings that civil engineers use often. He talked about how engineers have to think of many little details when creating plans.
“Our goal is to make things better,” Pope said of his profession.
Although encouraging the students to pursue math and science, Pope said an engineer’s job is about more than just math and science and that reading and writing are also important topics.
The event Thursday complements the 10 class Arduino Workshops rolled out by the library this summer that teaches basic programming and allows teens to build circuit boards, robots and other gadgets.
The Arduino Workshops meet from 3 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Fridays through Aug. 9. The program is free.